By Lois Kay
For disclaimers see part one.
Thank you Cyndi, for betareading. And suggesting. And remarking. And advising LOL You are a great friend.
As always, this story is dedicated to the woman who holds my heart, with both hands, keeping it safe and loving me no matter what...no matter where.
" Mmm, what do I smell in here ? Are you baking something ? Smells really nice."
Megan strolled into the kitchen and deposited her purse nonchalantly on one of the kitchen chairs. She walked over to her partner and put her hands on a pair of slender shoulders, pressing her cheek against a patch of fragrant auburn hair.
" Chocolate chip cookies," Sarah answered, not giving in to the distraction, but keeping an eye on the batch of cookies on the sheet in front of her.
Megan nodded and gently squeezed the shoulders underneath her hands.
" Care to share ?" she softly asked.
" What do you mean ?"
" Well," Megan drawled, carefully choosing her words. " You're either making cookies for every brownie and boy scout in the area, or there's something bothering you. So, what is it, love ?"
Sarah let out a heartfelt sigh and finally gave into the urge to turn around and seek refuge in the welcoming arms of her lover. Megan didn't press the issue, but patiently waited for an explanation. She knew the way Sarah dealt with problems and if there was anything she had learned through the years, it was leaving her partner be, until she was ready to share what was bothering her.
" It's the situation with Jody and Sam," Sarah finally answered, feeling the arms that encircled her unconsciously tighten.
" What about it ?" Megan asked, her voice soft, but strained.
" Jody called about an hour ago. They were in the hospital. Brian, one of the receptionists was shot this morning by one of those....guys that have been chasing Jody and almost abducted Fiona the other day."
" What ?!!" Megan looked into Sarah's eyes, her face drained of all colour. " He was shot ? Did he....I mean....Is he?"
" He's okay now," Sarah quickly answered. " They were able to stop the bleeding. Apparently his spleen was shot to pieces and he lost a lot of blood. But according to the doctor's he's going to be fine. But Meggie, this is so getting out of hand. Those blokes are ruthless!! It's clear that they are willing to kill in order to get what they want!"
Megan looked into the distressed face of her lover. Her expression was one of anxiety and sadness. She swallowed and braced herself to ask the question that was playing through her mind.
" Do you think we shouldn't let them stay here anymore? You think it's getting too dangerous?"
Sarah's head jerked up and a pair of grey, very indignant eyes looked at Megan with an astonished expression.
" No," she whispered. " No, no! That's not what I mean. Of course they are welcome here. They are most welcome. I would never turn my back on Jody. Never. It's just that I am so angry about what happened and I feel so helpless. I wish we could do more. But we have to get that gun out, love! This is our property and they are our friends. If anyone will be stupid enough to come here and terrorize us or our friends, they will be in for a big surprise!"
In spite of the seriousness of the situation, Megan threw her head back and laughed out loud.
" Ooo, you little spitfire," she smiled, kissing Sarah soundly on the lips. " Mama tiger, huh?"
" You bet," Sarah answered. " Those guys don't know who they could be dealing with. You know, my ancestors were real troublemakers. They weren't shipped out of England for nothing. They were outlaws and you know what their motto was: first shoot, then ask questions. If I find one of those goons trespassing on our property, I will....."
" Allright, sweetheart, allright," Megan interrupted smiling. " You have made yourself crystal clear. They d better stay away."
Megan grinned and pulled Sarah closer, feeling the tense, warm body relax against her own.
" God, I love you!" she sighed, her heart filled with gratitude and tenderness for the woman in her arms. She bent her head and felt her lips being caught by a pair of equally warm and soft ones. The batch of not yet baked chocolate chip cookies stood forgotten on the kitchen counter.
For the umpteenth time Jody looked across the room, to the slender form of Brian's Asian-Australian partner. Chris was about the same age and height as she was, but his eyes were dark brown and his straight, almost black hair was cut in a fashionable way. In spite of his timid appearance, Jody sensed a strength that was almost palpable. During the past day, Chris had proved himself sensible and strong, making a deep impression on both Jody and Sam.
" My goodness. If it had been Sam who'd been shot I would be hysterical," Jody mused, the very thought making her stomach churn. " I would be kicking and screaming, lashing out at just anyone who would be walking by. He is so...gentle, and yet so self assured. So graceful. I could never be that calm. I..."
Jody's musings were rudely disturbed by a pair of soulfull brown eyes that looked at her pensively. She quickly cast down her eyes and felt her cheeks go warm. A quick glance across the room showed a soft smile and she couldn't help but returning that friendly gesture.
" I am so sorry, Chris," she apologized. " I didn't mean to stare at you, but I was just wondering where you get the strength to be so calm. If I were you I'm sure I would be kicking and screaming."
" You think that would help?" was the soft reply.
He smiled again, a sad smile this time and leaned forward, his hands loosely resting on his knees.
" Brian doesn't need me to fall apart. He needs me to be there for him," Chris softly explained. " Don't get me wrong, I might not look it, but I am angry. Very angry and very capable of hurting the one who did this to him. But right now I need to stay focused. Brian will need me when he wakes up. We can deal with the rest later, together. Most important thing right now is that he gets better again. I need him."
Jody had to strain herself to hear those last few words. The intensity in his voice brought tears to her eyes and she didn't try to hide them.
" You really love him a lot."
It was no question, but an observation.
" I do," Chris replied. " Brian has always been there for me. He is the most generous, caring person I know. He stood by me when my family disowned me for who I am, for loving him. When I had to vent my frustration and hurt he was the one who took the heat. He never complained, just accepted all the crap I dumped on him and he never stopped loving me. He is my soulmate. There will never be anyone else for me but him."
Jody angrily wiped away the tears that were streaming down her cheeks and when Chris looked at her with nothing but compassion in his eyes, she jumped up, crossed the distance between them and wrapped her arms around him in a crushing hug.
" How can I ever repay Brian for protecting my sister the way he did?" she sobbed.
Chris smiled and stroked the unruly hair against his shoulder.
" Just accept things the way they are," he softly replied. " Brian acted in the only way he could. He would have never forgiven himself if he had not tried. My honey is a hero," he gently joked. " I accepted that a long time ago."
Jody slowly nodded and pulled away from Chris to be able to look him in the eyes.
" As long as you know that I will be forever grateful and if there's anything I..."
" I know, Jody," Chris interrupted. " I guess I would feel the same. Tell Brian. Okay? I am just the worried, significant other."
Jody smiled and took a seat next to Chris, glancing at her watch.
" You worried about Sam?" Chris casually asked.
Sam had left some time ago to make sure that Lucy and her mother were properly taken care of. She had spoken with Megan, who had insisted that Lucy and Joan McDonnell would be added to their lists of guests, telling Sam that their house was so disgustingly big that it would be a waste not to use all the space. Sam had given in, realizing that it was easier to keep an eye on everybody if they would all be together, even though it would be harder for their pursuers to find any of them if they would all be scattered around town. But Carol Wong had come through, promising Sam there would be two police officers guarding Sarah's and Megans property around the clock, until the danger was gone.
" I guess she'll be back soon," Jody sighed. " Knowing Sam she wants to make sure that my family has arrived at our friends' place safely. She's quite the organizer."
" When did you two meet?" " Oh, ages ago," Jody smiled, pushing back a strand of hair from her forehead. " We met almost ten years ago, but something happened and we...uh...lost contact. We only recently met again, after all that time, but it feels like those years never existed. It's strange, but it's like we' ve always been together."
" That's not real strange," Chris remarked. " When I look at the two of you, I see two people who belong together. Like sun and moon, ying and yang," he smiled. " Soulmates."
" You know, I have been thinking about that lately," Jody mused, not at all finding it strange to have a conversation that personal, with a person who a few hours ago was a total stranger.
" When I look back, I think that from the very first time we met, Sam had my heart. All of it. In the years we have been apart I once thought I loved another, but I didn't. And then Sam came back into my life and it was like, somewhere, a light went on. Inside of me. It was so warm and comfortable, like it was meant to be that way. I felt complete again, whole."
" Sounds like soulmates to me," Chris replied. " To me it's that feeling of meeting a twin soul. The pieces just fit together perfectly. Brian once wrote a poem for me and to me it made it all so clear.
In the tapestry of time
A hand weaved our strings
With my eyes shut tight,
My heart sought you out.
Like the movement of the sea,
Unstoppable and eternal
Our souls entwined and fused.
And I finally came home
When Chris finished speaking, Jody realized she had been holding her breath and slowly she let it out. Touched deeply by Chris' willingness to share those words with her.
" You are right," she finally spoke. " That's exactely what it feels like."
" It is," a husky voice suddenly sounded and Jody and Chris both looked up to see Sam, casually leaning against the door, but her clear eyes dark with emotion.
" That was beautiful, Chris, thank you for sharing."
" Don't thank me," Chris replied. " Thank that bard of mine, he has a way with words."
Sam carefully stretched her legs, feeling the cramping muscles in her right leg tighten even more. She tried not to wince when a sharp pain shot through her ankle, but when she saw Jody's face, she knew she has failed miserably.
" That bad, huh?" Jody remarked, her voice slightly trembling. "Is there anything I can do, honey?"
Sam shook her head and tried to smile reassuringly.
" Nothing a hot bath and some rest can't fix. Believe me, I have been through this before. Aren't you curious about what Carol had to say?"
" What do you mean changing topic'? " Jody snorted. " Allright. What happened at the police station? Anything interesting? Like, how many people did Lucy manage to upset today?
" As a matter of fact Lucy did great," Sam smiled. "According to Carol she managed to identify the man who shot Brian."
Chris' head shot up and with a grim face he looked at Sam.
" They know who he is?"
" They have a pretty good idea," Sam answered. " Lucy could give the police a vague description and when they showed her some photo's, she recognized him. I saw the pic and I'm pretty sure it was the same guy we ran into when your apartment was ransacked."
" Do they have a name?" Jody asked, suddenly very pale.
" Steven Hayes. Does that ring a bell?"
Both Jody and Chris shook their heads and Sam slowly nodded.
" I didn't really expect you to. Carol didn't really tell me anything about him, but apparently he's no stranger to the law."
" I swear to God, Joe. I didn't have a choice. They guy was trying to take me out! It was him or me."
Little Steven held his cellphone away from his ear and Fred, who was sitting next to him in the car, could hear his boss shout.
" YOU BLASTED IDIOT!!! WHAT WERE YOU DOING IN THERE IN THE FIRST PLACE? DO I HAVE TO DO EVERYTHING MYSELF?"
A few moments of silence and Little Steven could hear his boss gasping for air. Then, a deceptively calm voice continued.
" All right, this is the deal. You go out there, keep your eyes open and STAY AWAY FROM THE LAW, and I only want to see you and that little PISSANT again when you do have some results. And I mean POSITIVE ones. If I happen to see you before...you'd better make peace with your maker, cause I will send you straight to HELL."
For a few moments Little Steven stared at the phone in his hand, trying to wrap his mind around the serious threat his boss had just uttered, knowing there was only one way left to save his life.
Furious he threw the cellphone on the backseat of the car, not worried if it would be able to stand such abuse. He turned to Fred and grabbed his shoulder in a vice like grip.
" This is getting serious," he hissed and for the first time Fred was able to see fear in his companion's eyes. "Deadly serious. From now on, you are gonna do exactely what I tell you to. EXACTLY! Because if you don't, it won't be Joe who's gonna waste your sorry ass, it will be me!"
After those words Little Steven angrily started the engine of the car and sped away into the darkness, preoccupied with only one thing: surviving.
It was way past midnight when Sam and Jody had finally made it back to the house. Sam had occasionally called Megan and Sarah, to keep everybody informed of their whereabouts and of Brian's situation.
When they had finally left the hospital, Brian's condition was stable and his doctor was expecting a rapid recovery.
"He lost quite some blood, but he is young, he is very fit. Luckily the damage was done only to the spleen. I don't see any reason why Brian shouldn't make a quick recovery."
After a quick look at Brian, who was still very sleepy, and saying goodbye to a very grateful Chris, Jody and Sam left the hospital and drove home. Happy to know that Brian would recover, worried about the gunman on the loose and very tired.
" Seems like they are all off to bed," Jody noticed, when she parked her car alongside Lucy's.
" Can't blame them," Sam mumbled, cautiously exiting the car, careful not to step into a hole.
She tried not to limp while walking towards the porch and was pleasantly surprised when she felt a strong arm around her waist, giving her support.
" Don't try to be the tough chick, sweetheart," Jody chided her. " It's me, you know. It's okay to say it hurts."
" Any excuse to touch me, huh?" Sam joked, her arm slipping around Jody's shoulders. She gently squeezed and immediately felt Jody's warm body pressing against her tall frame.
" Of course," Jody answered, not even willing to deny the accusation. " It's been a long day and I can't even remember the last time I kissed you today."
They had reached the porch and Sam turned to Jody and, without warning, pulled her into her arms. She buried her face in fragrant hair and inhaled deeply, feeling the tension that had been accumulating all day, slowly slip away.
Jody softly groaned in pleasure and rubbed her cheek against a cotton clad shoulder.
" I needed this," she whispered.
" I thought you wanted a kiss?" Sam teased, playfully blowing some warm air in her lover's ear, almost making her jump.
" I do," Jody sighed. " But right now I am so comfortable, it has to be a real good kiss to make me give up this comfy spot."
" Are you challenging me?" Sam purred.
" I don't know." Jody peeked up from her position and smiled when she saw Sam's squinted eyes watching her warily.
" Do you feel challenged?"
The answer was the pressure of a pair of soft, warm lips against her own and Jody unconsciously moaned, when Sam pulled her even closer, deepening the kiss. Slowly, thoroughly exploring the responsive lips that wholeheartedly opened up to give access to a probing tongue. Playful, passionate, and loving.
Jody's breathing quickened and she was very aware of the thundering heartbeat against her ear and a pair of hands that were insistantly pulling her shirt out of her slacks.
"Sam," she finally managed to whisper. " Sam, we're outside, on the porch."
" We are?" Sam mumbled between kissing Jody's neck and sucking her earlobe, letting her hands slide down to the small of her lover's back, slip underneath her shirt and feeling their way up again.
" What if we run into my mom? Or Lucy? We will never live that down, Sam," Jody managed to get out, trying to ignore Sam's fingers unhooking her bra.
" Let's get inside then, see if we can find our bedroom in the dark."
" Sam," Jody breathed with difficulty. " If you keep touching my breast like that I will never make it inside. "
Sam didn't immediately answer, but Jody could feel the chuckle and she playfully slapped her taller lover.
"You are doing that on purpose, you little...."
"Little? " Sam echoed. " Who's the midget here, my love? I thought that..."
Sam's mock protest was efficiently silenced by Jody's lips, warm, soft and very sensual. Sam immediately lost her train of thought and quickly felt her world spinning out of control, until her world only consisted of the woman in her arms, who was turning her knees into jelly and caused her heart to almost pound out of her chest.
" Let's find that bed, honey," Jody whispered. " There are some things I have to take care of. Right now."
Sam could only nod and let herself be led inside by her lover, too occupied with the raging storm inside her body to notice anything else but the soft, warm hand that was holding hers. And missing the small, triumphant smile on the face of a certain, very aroused redhaired young woman.
Halfway up the driveway leading to Sarah's and Megan's house, a dark colored, unmarked car was hidden from view by the surrounding bushes. Even the bright light from the moon wasn't able to outline it's contours from anyone climbing the hill up to the house.
It's two occupants were relaxed, but very alert. Two pair of eyes constantly scanned the enviroment, looking for anything out of place. There was hardly any talking. The rolled down windows made sure that all sounds would reach their ears. They were determined not to be surprised, by anything. And there were plenty of sounds. Now and then the quiet night was disturbed by the characteristic grunts of Koalas that were housing in the trees around the property. Sometimes a soft rustling of leaves gave away the presence of a wallaby or paddymellon, but although they could be heard, they never managed to actually spot one. The little nocturnal animals of the forrest were minding their own business, ignoring the sleek car that was intruding their habitat.
Their instructions had been very clear. Except for family and friends, no one was to pass their car and find their way up the hill. They were provided with a list and descriptions of the ones staying in the house and when Jody's car had approached their hidden position, they knew who were in there and let them pass, not willing to give away their perfect spot.
Except for the two watchful people in the car, there were another couple that wasn't asleep yet, in spite of the late hour.
Without much trouble, Jody and Sam had managed to find their way into the bedroom, where they had crashed on the bed and indulged in a session of passionate love making. It had left them spent and tired, but they were so happy and content, that neither of them wanted to go to sleep.
Jody was practically laying on top of Sam, nuzzling a warm neck and breathing in the sweet, distinctive scent of her lover.
"Is it very hedonistic of me to say that I just love the feel of your naked body against mine?" she asked with a sleepy voice, rubbing the inside of her thigh against Sam's hip.
" Hedonistic?" Sam lazily echoed. " Uhm...I don't know, my love. Let me think....nah! Not hedonistic, just honest."
" You're too kind," Jody mumbled.
" Thank you," Sam replied. " You're not so bad yourself."
Jody wanted to slap Sam playfully across her belly, but she was so sated and relaxed, that she could hardly lift her arm, which made Sam chuckle.
"Do you think we woke anybody up?" Jody's voice sounded again, a bit concerned this time.
" When?" Sam asked with an innocent face. " When we bumped into the kitchen table, nearly knocking that vase off, or when down the hall, you begged me to stop, basically meaning Please, Sam, go on'?"
"I didn't beg," Jody snorted. But when Sam didn't answer she lifted up her head and risked a peek into a pair of innocent blue eyes. " Did I?"
" I don't know about that, honey, "Sam chuckled. " You did sound a bit urgent, especially when you sort of moaned:'God, Sam, now! Please.'"
Jody hid her face against Sam's shoulder to hide her blush, but Sam could feel the heat radiating against her already warm skin.
" Don't worry about it," she whispered, kissing Jody's temple. " You were adorable and very...um...inspiring."
Jody sighed and tightened her grip on the tall body.
" I love you, Sam. Even though you are the world's biggest tease!"
" I love you too, baby. All of you."
" It's a good thing you persuaded me to buy that big table last year," Sarah grinned, looking into the kitchen, where all their guests were assembled for breakfast. " At least we can fit all them in there now."
" Well, honey," Megan answered, looking at her partner fondly. " That proves the fact that sometimes I do have good ideas."
Sarah winked and opened the kitchen door.
" I knew that, " she smiled. " The past five years you have proven yourself over and over again."
" It was in the job description." Megan mumbled, following her lover into the kitchen, where Joan McDonnell was cooking breakfast for every body.
" Mmmm, mom, you make the best crumpets," Jody complimented her mother, with a mouthful of the pancake like breakfast item. "They are the best I have ever tasted."
There was a hint of sadness in her voice when she remembered all those mornings away from home, trying to live with the knowledge that she was disowned by her own family.
Sam and Megan caught on and they exchanged a knowing glance, before Sam reached out her hand and covered Jody's, gently squeezing it under the table.
" What are you going to do today, mom?" Lucy asked, sipping from her hot coffee.
Before Sam could say "Nothing, everybody stays right here today", Joan McDonnell turned around and glanced at her three daughters. She looked tired, like she hardly got any sleep, which was not far beside the truth. The room and bed Megan and Sarah had so generously provided had been very comfortable, but her waking hours had been occupied by worrying, while the few hours of sleep had been plagued by restless dreams.
" I think I should let your dad know that I am all right, " she answered. " I have to consider your brothers as well. I don't want them to think I just abandoned them. God knows what your father might have told them," she added bitterly.
" Are you going over there?" Jody asked, her eyes full of worry.
" Don't you think that would be the best way to handle this?" Joan McDonnell answered with a question of her own.
Jody bit her lip and slowly nodded, not pleased at all that her mother was going to confront their domineering father on her own. As if Lucy had read her mind, she suddenly put down her coffee cup and turned to fully face her mother.
"I'll come with you," she declared in a tone that didn't leave much room for arguing. " I am not letting you go by yourself."
" No, mom," Lucy answered. " I will come with you. I'll stay in the car, or outside the door if you really want me to, but you are not going alone."
Fiona, who had been uncharacteristiclly (LOL)quiet looked from Lucy to her mother and back. She had put down her fork a little while ago and had not taken one bite ever since the conversation started. She played with the food on her plate and when Jody looked at her she saw that her youngest sister's face was pale and drawn.
" Are you going to leave dad?" she finally asked, not daring to look at her mother.
Joan McDonnell put down the spoon she was holding and leaned her hand on the kitchen counter for support. The question Fiona had just asked her, was the same one that had been floating through her head all night. She tried not to see the pained expression on her daughters'faces when she carefully touched her bruised cheek.
" I have thought about it," she finally truthfully answered. " It depends a lot on your father. We have some very important issues to solve, but if he....if he is...if he doesn't see we have a problem, I...might...I might leave him."
" If you do, what will happen to me and the boys?" Fiona asked, her voice was unsteady and Jody and Lucy could hear the fear. " You are not leaving us with him, are you?"
Joan McDonnell walked over to her youngest daughter and knelt down next to her chair. She tenderly pushed away a strand of dark hair and softly stroked a warm cheek.
" I will never leave you, or your brothers," she promised. " If your father and I decide to...split up, it will be your decision where you want to live. I promise."
Fiona leaned into the touch and swallowed away her tears. The prospect of having to leave her mother had scared her senseless. She knew her dad was a difficult, obsessed and dominant man, but it was the only father she had and she did love him, but being without her mother was something she knew she couldn't. Not yet. She needed her. Maybe it would be better to say , something she wasn't ready to do. ?
" But where will we go?"
" If mom decides to go, we will help out," Jody answered, looking at her mother. " We will find you a place. Don't worry about it."
" And if you want to, you can stay here for a while," Sarah added, after exchanging a look with her partner, who had nodded smiling. " As you might have noticed, we have lots of room."
Joan McDonnell tried to blink away the tears that were making her vision blurry and shot the two young women, who had been strangers to her until the previous day, a grateful look.
Jody smiled when she realized there was more than hospitality behind Sarah's offer. By staying at their place, Joan McDonnell would be safe from her husband's wrath, because the police were keeping an eye on the property. If David McDonnell would decide to show up and start problems, the police would be close by, like Carol Wong had promised.
" I will only drive down the road, pick up the mail and come back up, " Megan sighed, sending her partner a pathetic look. " Believe me, honey, I won't go any further and besides, I will take the dog with me."
" It's a great dog," Jody smiled. " But he'd sooner lick a person to death than attack him."
" Hey! Don't you start insulting my dog," Megan warned, but there was a twinkle in her eyes.
" It's perfectly safe, Sarah," Sam spoke in Megans defense. " Somewhere down the road there's a policecar hiding. I know it's there, even though we didn't see it last night."
" Maybe they didn't show up," Sarah mumbled.
" They did," Sam answered, pretty sure of herself. " Carol promised they would be there. They are there, I'm sure. But if it makes you feel any better, I can go with Megan. We'll be back in ten minutes. And we'll bring the dog," she added with a grin.
" Okay, " Sarah sighed. " But still, I have this.....never mind. Go get the mail. We need to continue our lives like it's normal, right? Well, next week is our anniversary party and I'd like to know who is coming, so...go get the mail. It's about time we make a list of guests."
" We will be back before you know it, " Sam smiled at Jody, her blue eyes clear and alert, despite the lack of sleep.
Jody felt her cheeks go warm when she remembered the previous night and blushed when Sam winked at her, knowing they were having the same thoughts.
Of course, Lucy had to notice and with a little devilish smile she looked at her sister.
" Warm in here, isn't it, Peas? Or are you just.....blushing?"
She laughed when Jody shot her a lethal look and decided to torture her sister a bit more.
" See, you and Sam were home late, weren't you? I mean, I can't remember hearing you come home, or....wait!" Lucy suddenly sat straight up, her dark eyes full of mischief, " maybe I did hear! See, I woke up because I heard a thump and ...."
Sarah, who had been hearing the teasing, popped up behind Lucy and covered her mouth with her hand. She bent forward a little and winked at Jody, who smiled a grateful smile and decided to take the opportunity to get out of the kitchen.
" Lucy, " Sarah drawled. " There is a time to speak and there is a time to shut up. This is a time to shut up." She uncovered Lucy's mouth and sat down in the empty chair next to her.
" I know you like teasing, but believe me, this was not the right time. I mean, of course you heard them," there was a laugh in her voice. " I think we all did, at least, when they came in and nearly broke down the kitchen, but....your sister is very sensitive about these kind of things. You would really embarrass her."
"Okay, point taken, " Lucy admitted, stretching and yawning. " And I guess you're right. I was about to go way out of line. I'd better not, because knowing Jody, she would remember and take revenge...one day."
" Or Sam would kick your....butt," Sarah laughed.
" Ouch," Lucy responded, a frown creasing her forehead. " That would even be worse."
It did take Sam and Megan less than five minutes to reach the bottom of the hill, take a big stack of mail out of the mailbox and head back up again. The weather was gorgeous. It was still early in the morning and it was cool under the canopy of trees. There were flocks of diamond finches scattered around the road , flying up annoyed when Megan drove the car passed them, disturbing their breakfast.
The road was narrow, wide enough for only one car, but Megan, who had been driving that road every day for years now, exactly knew how to steer the car around the occassional tree that seemed to be sitting in the middle of the road. The road was pretty steep, slowly winding up the hill for about three kilometers. Through the trees Sam could see the surrounding hills and got an occassional glance of the Pacific, like a blue mirror, stretching out to the horizon.
" I have seen this view several times now, " she told Megan. " and it is still breathtaking."
" I know what you mean, " Megan answered. " We have been living here for almost five years now and the scenery never gets boring. I love living here. We are close to, so called civilization, but it feels like we live way out in the bush. And the wildlife on our property is enormous. We even have Koalas around."
Megan glanced to her left, a twinkle in her eyes.
" I could have sworn I heard a few of them last night. Their grunting is very distinctive."
" Really? " Sam answered. " I didn't hear......."
She stopped halfway her sentence and looked at her friend through squinted eyes. Megan noticed the look and laughed out loud when she saw the indignant expression on Sam's face, mixed with embarrassment.
" Don't worry, Sam, I am just teasing," Megan grinned. " We only heard you come in, that's all. You two apparently forgot that most of the bedroom doors are in the hall behind the kitchen. Once you got to the bedroom we didn't hear anything anymore. I swear."
Sam grinned sheepisly and tried not to blush, which failed miserably.
" I guess we were carried away by the moment, " she explained. " I'm sorry if we..."
" Don't apologize, " Megan interupted. " You two are crazy about each other, so don't apologize for moments of passion. Just enjoy them."
" I do, " Sam admitted. " But I don't really want to make a public display out of it."
" You didn't," Megan reassured her. " I think that.....What the heck?"
Megan suddenly hit the breaks and brought the car to a stop. Sam followed her glance and immediately the hairs on the back of her neck rose. A chill ran down her spine and all her senses were on alert.
About twenty meters in front of them a dark car was parked halfway up the road. It's nose was hidden in the bushes. The doors were open and two slumped figures were sitting in the front. Unmoving. Silent.
" Sam!" Megan whispered, feeling cold inspite of the sunlight that was streaming through the trees, painting the car in a golden light.
Sam swallowed and frantically scanned their enviroment. The bush was silent. Nothing moved and no sound was heard. It was a green wall of deadly stillness.
" I'll go have a look. Stay here Megan. If something happens....get the hell out of here. Just put the car in reverse and make a run for it and don't stop until you reach the police station."
" Megan, please!"
Sam's voice was strained with emotion when she realized the situation now was completely out of hand. Her chest constricted when she thought about the five women in the house on top of the hill. Defenseless, without any form of protection.
Jody! Oh, my God. Jody. No! Not like this. Please, God. Please let her be safe. Let this be nothing but a bad dream!
Sam carefully stepped out of the car. Her senses on full alert. She felt the blood pumping through her veins and her breathing increased. The perspiration formed on her forehead and the palms of her hands were sticky and wet. She pushed the car door close with a soft click. Her face was drained of all color and her eyes dark with fear when she slowly, carefully approached the dark car with the two still figures. As soon as she came closer she could see the blood on the inside of the windscreen and she tried to push back a feeling of nausea, that threatened to make her lose her breakfast. With a dry, crackling noise a little twig broke under her foot and she held her breath, listening for any sound that would indicate that they were not alone. Only after a few minutes of dead silence, Sam slowly resumed her walk towards the car, which she was sure was an unmarked police car. She finally reached the back of the sedan and it took all her courage to look inside.
In the front of the car two men were slumped in their seats. There was no movement and Sam could clearly see neither of them was showing any signs of life. The blood on the windscreen was much more than just that and reality became sickingly clear to her. Both men were shot in the back of their head and the contents of their heads were splattered all over the front of the car. Sam had to turn away and take a few deep breaths to avoid throwing up. She turned around and Megan, who hadn't taken her eyes off her friend, could see the horror in her eyes.
" Oh, God. Sarah," she whispered, feeling her stomach clench.
With a few long strides Sam arrived back at the car and opened the door. Her face was pale, even her lips were white.
" Megan, " she started, her voice hoarse. " I want you to turn around and go to the police station. Tell them two of their officers are down. We need help up here."
" But Sam, what about you?" Megan asked, while the tears were streaming down her face. " What about Sarah and Jody and the rest. Sam, I..."
" You need to get help, Megan, " Sam stressed. " Keep it together, okay? It might be our only chance. I will run up to the house. This has just happened, I might be in time if I take the short cut. I will go through the bush, skip the corners."
" What if you run into them?"
" For their sakes I'd better not," Sam hissed, her face suddenly a ferocious mask of fury. " Go, Megan. Go get help."
Sam turned around and sprinted towards the side of the road, disappearing in the green wall of bushes and trees. Megan swallowed hard, put the car in reverse and headed down the hill with breakneck speed. She tried hard not to think about all the things that could happen with her lover and their friends.
" Please, no. Please, no."
The words were automatically repeated in her head, like a silent mantra, while she skillfully steered her car down the hill.
" Let them be all right. Please, God. Let them be all right."
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To be continued in part 12. And this time you don't have to wait three months!
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